The first public community college opened it’s doors in Illinois in 1901, Joliet Junior College. It’s incredible to think how many students started their higher education at one of our nation’s 1000+ community college institutions over the past 115 years. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) states,
“In the 20th century, community colleges have not only survived, they have thrived by demonstrating remarkable resiliency and becoming centers of educational opportunity open to all seekers. They pride themselves on providing educational marketplaces where student choices and community needs influence course offerings. Now we mark a century in which community colleges have helped millions of people learn and advance toward personal goals, while providing a forum to address challenges facing whole communities.”
The AACC estimates more than half the United States’ undergraduates are educated in community colleges. Wow!
However, when I was in graduate school in 2005, I don’t recall community colleges being emphasized as a place of prospective employment for student affairs professionals. And because I was not the product of a community college myself, I didn’t envision my career taking me to Jamestown Community College.
But just like my students, community college has opened doors for me, too. Now that I have worked in a two-year setting just as long as I worked in a four-year environment, I can think of a few professional advantages for community college student affairs practitioners:
1.) Open access admissions is a value near and dear to the mission of community colleges, one that for me means I get to work with an incredibly diverse and humble student population.
In this series you’ll read posts that will help you better understand and debunk stereotypes about the community college student population.
2.) You’ve probably heard faculty and staff in community colleges often wear “multiple hats.” In other words, for me the necessity for partnerships across functional areas means I can specialize in being a generalist!
In this series, you’ll read a diverse set of practitioners’ perspectives and see the cross-functional network we operate within.
3.) Advising student organizations in a two-year setting took some adjusting for me, but I have found a rhythm over the years and absolutely love mentoring my student leaders. They rise to the challenge and impressively affect positive change both on campus and in the local community.
In this series you’ll hear some stories of amazing student resilience, perseverance, challenge and success!
4.) While working as a full-time mid-level student affairs staff member, I have also had the fortunate opportunity to adjunct a few courses over the years and serve on several college-wide committees. These opportunities have broadened my higher education experience beyond my functional area.
This series will feature student affairs practitioners with multidimensional professional and personal identities. For many, the choice to work in a community college setting is very intentional.
Follow the #comm_college series all month! We hope you’ll gain an increased understanding and interest in student affairs careers in community colleges no matter your current career stage. Community college staff pride ourselves on the immense support services our student can access from us outside the classroom, and I’m confident you’ll be impressed, too. Please comment with your thoughts and reflections as you read, and share these posts with your colleagues!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Melissa Boles on Academic Advising in a Community College Setting